2017-06-28 RSI

Recently I received an email by somebody who is developing pains in his fingers. Is it because of Emacs? The wrong keyboard? Bad posture? Carpal tunnel syndrom? Is it repetitive strain injury (RSI) imminent?

I know the feeling. Years ago, I had the same problem. And I was not alone. The Emacs Wiki RSI page has more stories. The short summary I wrote on my own page: I saw a doctor, started physiotherapy on 2002-02-05. I bought a Kinesis keyboard. I used little programs that forced me to take a lot of breaks. It didn’t help. I stopped therapy 2002-10-21 and decided to work less, get up more often, started practicing Aikido, and no longer work in long shifts. That helped.

There’s a certain sadness that comes with all that. Here’s what I wrote back:

Hello again
I don’t think I can help you. I basically decided that I’d rather change my life than get my neck x-rayed in order to look for possible nerve issues (with the obvious implication that if we did find something, we’d operate on it). So that’s what I did. I work a 60% job over the year with all Fridays off and a four month break in summer. I picked a sport to improve posture (I picked Aikido because I don’t like competitions). I felt encouraged to do this because I had noticed that the pain disappeared over long weekends and holidays. Obviously work was having a negative effect. These days it still comes back if I work for long hours or if I’m angry or both, when I’m angry about having to work long hours. I also noticed that the pain comes back quicker when I spend long hours at home at the laptop, and no fancy keyboard I tried actually helped. So I figured it must be something about the seating, the table height, or whatever. And so I cut back my coding at home, too. More running, more walking, more Aikido, more reading, playing an instrument, whatever it takes. A different hobby, to take my mind away from the only hobby I had for many years, code.
Wishing you the best of luck
Alex

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I successfully healed myself, so here’s my advice:

See Xah Lee's RSI experience. He is describing a similar thing. That is, pay attention to the problems that may be the cause of your RSI, fix them, the issue will start to go away.

– AlexDaniel 2017-06-30 12:39 UTC


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